I’m so sorry I can’t be with you tonight
high in an Italian mountain wilderness
sipping red wine from glasses we found
in the dimly lit kitchen where we simmered
al dente spaghetti on a single electric ring
and licked the salt of olives from our hands.
Remember the first time? Holding hands
in the room where you are alone tonight;
warming our hands on the same electric ring
and listening to the sounds of the wilderness
as we enjoyed simple dishes, simmering
spaghetti, impatient and hungry for all we found?
I wonder, when you arrived, whether you found
the bed linen I washed with my hands
in the room next to the spaghetti simmering,
and made up the bed, comfortable for tonight,
safe from the strange mountain wilderness,
comforted by bolognese cooked on that single ring.
It might be some little while before you ring,
an hour’s difference disrupting rhythms, we found,
leaving us each dancing in our own wilderness,
unused to having so much space and time on our hands.
I wonder if you will want to talk much tonight?
after a day in the sun, bed made, spaghetti simmering.
Tomorrow, when you are properly settled, simmering
gently in the warmth of the medieval stones, ring
and we’ll swap stories; perhaps leave it tonight,
giving you time to reflect on whatever you have found,
gemstones and kernels to share, held in your hands
like a prayer in the Italian mountain wilderness.
By now you will be sleeping, unfamiliar wilderness
of Italian dream-scapes shifting and simmering,
heat taking leave of mountain stones, dear hands
perhaps reaching for mine, wanting to be held, ring
me in the morning, and tell me what you found,
but know in your heart, I am with you tonight.
Two dear hands in the wilderness
where tonight dreams are simmering,
ring in the morning, to tell me what you found.
The very opening lines of rail-road relationships
Parallel people like us may never roll together,
our distance fixed;
and stations may fall before we two deign to meet.
When you slide off your own confounded tracks
it is me who cries,
your own oily tears lost in gritty ballast;
and at my earnest signal,
you uncouple us roughly, re-align and speed away.
An inauspicious start to this impermanent sunny morning:
concocted reality spooned from thin cardboard,
depressed tv chewing and spitting its non-events,
clagging milk onto sour grapes.
No more faffing, jiggering, pottering.
Filled with organic vigour and creative biscuits,
for lunch I will emerge a new dish
available for one day only:
a glorious tasty sandwich
of my scorpion and the moon.
Senescence licks a disturbed light
onto his bedroom wall.
Sleep pitted by dark dreams
my pilgrim rises in good faith,
the pendulum of remembrance
striking a steady rhythm.
Octogenerian legs undone at night;
challenged by verticality
he leans heavy on the door
flexing old shoulders,
turning his head, slow, like this,
already unsure of his purpose.
Taking heart though (detected by his step)
he descends stairs unsupported,
collects his coat and keys,
and as simply as he can,
will have no more of this…
“I will have no more of this,” he says.
At midnight in the fields of my humanity
I break the silence with a prayer and
stooping on warm ground, cast my coat.
Beckoned by history’s scent, and watching yesterdays,
I begin to collect half answers with a trowel,
for to be fixed and shored would be
to shroud some other light.
In ancient caves I measure gritty bricks and buffers,
unblocking obstruction with a pick,
contemplating potent questions pitted by the night,
without dislodging criticalities.
Complacency is crushed against
the monolithic walls I climb to harness
crumbs of wonder; the sting of straps
drawn tight upon my wrists, borne in good faith.
My ageing ropes are not taut, and not precise;
endeavour challenged by verticalities.
Oh those worthy comrades strung from ropes close by
swing a tantalising rhythm.
At dawn, with arms of love, I drape about the roof
and rafter-dance with mighty beams caught by earth,
refracting sharp from off her face, to
fly me respectfully onto shoulders of toil.
From this place I witness men and women
bending to practicalities they task themselves to shift,
and though their masters quit, they stay
to build and banter still around this busy tract.
Daylight strikes and sceptics lean upon the gate;
my voice quieted by the human tide
I descend unsupported columns, collect my coat,
but string commitment to the citadel of return.
Something lumpily is squeezing down my windpipe,
Something drippily is lipidicing life,
Something clumpily is clogging up my childhood,
Something slippily is causing me some strife.
A boil erupted on the face of my acceptance,
I am hampered by the truth we hid so well,
Walking evidence we couldn’t really trust them,
I am cankered by the tales we couldn’t tell.
Scritch, scritch, scratch,
there I am again
on the edge of sleep
clutching a ball point
I left a message for you on a slip
inside Pundora’s box
folded inside disturbed sleep
these desperate disordered times
are too many sheep for me to count
fumbling in the gloom.
Scritch, scritch, scratch,
quickly, lock me in
and I will vote for you in the morning
none of them have tails
perhaps we will never be well again
dashing in our hither thither
setting our souls on tenterhooks…
I need a massive elephant to hold my love for you,
let’s face it to be barking frank I need a full on zoo.
I’ll bring some pretty penguins and a dolphin and a duck,
to quack about the way I feel, I can’t believe my -
to do you justice honey bee, I’ll ask a roaring lion,
and forty furry monkeys and a snake I can rely on.
There’s room for rhinos, heffalumps and owls in a bush,
and huge orang-utans and spiky whatsits we can’t -
I’ll introduce a growling thing with teeth and not much hair,
but keep it well away from meerkats, other cats and bear.
The dolphins all will do a flip, the seals will throw their fish,
when love’s humungous tiger grabs your collar for a -
Choosing to withstand those baleful days
whose menace would cast aspersions
on my love for life
I will disguise the grinding of my teeth
by chomping raw pasta
for breakfast, dinner and tea,
then gaily hang waterbags on the washing line.
If, as I am pegging out,
there is laughter in the snicket,
I will believe it is with me
and belly back wholeheartedly.
In these considered ways
I will stay active,
keep my stomach lined,
and, hey ho, the flies will not bother us this spring.